Absent friends

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve blogged on my passion for Twitter.  My former-boss must’ve heard me a few times, as she eventually sent me on a one day social media course, and that’s where my “professional” knowledge comes from; the rest has been trial and error.  I can’t claim to be an expert, but I know enough to help me out when I need it, particularly in terms of maintaining my social media output without having to do so manually.  This is especially relevant now that I’m five time zones and a dodgy internet connection away from two rapidly-growing Twitter networking events that I like to take part in.

I’m in the US until the end of September and, for most of that time, my working hours mean that I won’t be able to participate “live” in #EquineHour and #HorseHour, but I will be there in social media spirit.  Here’s how:

  • One of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of planning your social media posts is Hootsuite – the free functions are brilliant for the average blogger, and both the website and iOS app are easy to use (I’m an iPhone user, so can’t comment on the Android app, though it is available).  Below are iPhone app screen shots:

1b. hootsuite iOS iPhone twitter schedule message screen grab menu options compose

  •  Here’s what the dashboard looks like – you can link a variety of social media accounts (I don’t have Facebook linked, as I only have a “personal” account, which I’m not currently using to promote my blog).  I mostly use Twitter, but have recently set up a Tumblr account for my blog too.  The image below shows that I have Tweets set up to promote blog posts from my archive daily – I’ve done these manually, and when possible “throwback” or “flashback” to topics which are relevant on that day, as I know they’ll be popular on Twitter thus gaining me easy visibility (e.g. Mother’s Day, Olympics anniversaries, Christmas)

hootsuite dashboard social media guide help

Setting Tweets up

  • Select the social media channel from the accounts you have linked at the top of the screen

2. select social media channel twitter wordpress facebook

  • Compose your message!  Put web links in the small box and click “shrink” to shorten them and save characters (this also makes links trackable – Hootsuite provides data on which website people clicked your link from)

3. compose your message twitter tweet facebook status update

  • Schedule your message – ensure that it’s scheduled for after your post goes live, otherwise links won’t work!  When I started my blog, I researched Twitter strategies and learned that many bloggers Tweet at certain times to optimise visibility – on new post days, my account Tweets roughly every 50 minutes

4. schedule message twitter tweet social media

  • Learn by doing!  Try out different functions and find what works best for your blog.  Use the analytics provided – it’s what they’re there for!  Sometimes it’s best to Tweet in the early morning, when people are arriving at work but haven’t settled down for the day.  Lunchtime is a good time to transmit lots of messages, whilst the world takes a break.  Evenings and weekends may also be times when many people are catching up online for personal reasons, but it’s about figuring out what works best for you
  • You can mention others in timed Tweets – I do shoutouts to friends, brands and others this way.  Remember that if you want all followers to see your Tweet, start the message with something other than a message directed at one account: for example “@EquineHour excited for the next #EquineHour” would only be seen by that account, others among your followers who follow that account and anyone using the #EquineHour hashtag.  A better Tweet for visibility would be, “Excited for @EquineHour tonight – join in from 8pm #EquineHour”.  If I’ve mentioned brands in my blog post, you’ll see Tweets such as this:

 

 

As well as providing me with a tool on new post days, and for plunging into my archives daily, Hootsuite enables me to participate in Twitter events if I can’t be at my screen on time.  If I’m going to be absent from events such as #EquineHour and #HorseHour, I set Tweets to send four or five times throughout the hour to promote relevant blog links.  I sometimes do this even if I am participating, if there are particular things I want to make sure I flag, in case I get over-excited and forget!  It’s also a good way of setting up countdown warnings for fellow Tweeters – I often send messages such as “Looking forward to @HorseHour today, starting at 8pm #HorseHour”, between two and four hours in advance of the event.

Hopefully this gives a bit of insight – technology is a wonderful thing and, although this means you miss out on “live” conversation, it means you can be present in more than spirit at key moments!

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